Unincorporated Bay County residents have a year from Hurricane Michael to meet code requirements

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Bay County Code Enforcement Manager, Kathi Ashman, said, "I can't even imagine being in those houses when the storm hit."

They're all over Bay County... homes and buildings left dilapidated by Hurricane Michael.

"I don't know if they've done the last pass yet. I'm guessing not because I don't see the signs," Ashman said as she pulled up to a heavily damaged neighborhood.

But starting October 11th, Bay County Code Enforcement will be taking action for properties in the unincorporated parts of the county.

"We can see that they have a dumpster here, however, there's very little progress as far as the repairs go, there's most likely legitimate reasons for that," she said standing at the end of one driveway.

Following October 11th, property owners whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Michael that are deemed unsafe, unfit, or dangerous will be brought to the Code Enforcement Board.

"From that point, the property owner is given time to make repairs, pull permits, and or they can demolish it. At that point it's still up to them," said Ashman.

After that, if nothing is done to the property, demolition is considered.

But County Code Enforcement officials say they want to work closely with property owners to ensure that demolition is the worst case scenario.

Ashman said, "For individuals who have legitimate reasons--insurance, mortgages not coming through--may also at a later date go to that code enforcement board but we will be advocating on their behalf to give them extensions."

But Code Enforcement workers face a challenge. "We have so many properties that were devastated during the storm and trying to identify those properties is what we've been working on the last month and not to give violations, but to be able to reach out and help out property owners," said Ashman.

Aside from working with property owners, the county is also offering a private property debris removal program to assist with clean up and/or demolition. For more information, click here.